“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
– Proverbs 11:2
Sometimes I think back on those early years struggling to support a wife, two kids and a mortgage on not much income. While we did usually manage to have one decent family car, about all I could afford to drive back then was an old junker. Most memorable was an older model Volkswagen Square-Back, sort of like a Beetle with the engine in the back, except it was a station wagon. I had purchased it from a work colleague for a mere five hundred dollars, but even at that I still had to borrow money and make payments to the bank. The biggest problem with the car was that it had no first gear which required learning a delicate technique of manipulating the clutch in order to start off in second, a particular challenge when going uphill. Yes, those were lean times.
Although it did break down occasionally, for the most part that old VW was actually pretty reliable as far as getting me to and from work every day. The problem was not the functionality, rather it was the embarrassment of not appearing to be very prosperous – which, of course, I wasn’t. But I wanted to look prosperous, you see, like a young executive on the move – which, in retrospect, I was except for the rather meager salary I was making.
Humbling as it was, driving those old clunkers sort of kept things in perspective for me. I didn’t like it much at the time, but looking back I realize how important humility was in my development. How desperately I longed for reasons to be cocky like some of my peers at the time, some of whom actually drove fancy new cars! Humility, though, taught me many lessons such as empathy and patience toward others, things I may not have learned had I not been relegated to driving those old jalopies.
Fortunately, my living standards are a considerably higher now than they were then – including the cars in my garage – yet in some ways things haven’t changed all that much; for there always seems to be something humbling that occurs whenever I start to feel a little overly proud. I still don’t like it very much, but then I realize that humility continues to play an important role in my ongoing development. As the Proverb reminds us, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”